I remember very well how I met Mike. I was standing in line at Whole Foods in Sherman Oaks, wearing shorts and a Dodgers T-shirt. After arriving straight from a weekend in Temecula followed by a game of Dodgers, I knew if I got home first I wouldn’t be back in time for groceries. I caught the last game of the season and am on the mend after the win. It was October, and LA County required masks indoors, so I had a matching Dodgers mask that looked like a true die-hard fan.
While waiting in line, I heard someone behind me talking. I glanced back, and his voice stopped. I’ve piled up my week’s worth of groceries on the conveyor belt. I heard this voice again. I go back, hard.
“You’re talking to me?” I asked confused.
“I’m talking to my friend.” He pointed to the AirPods hidden in his ear. Then he looked at me a second time, checking on me as soon as I turned around. “Do you want me to talk to you?”
Of course, he couldn’t see my smile behind my mask, but it was there. He found every excuse to talk to me.
“Are you a Dodgers fan, or do you just wear the shirt?” Mike asked. I told him I had come from the game and I remembered the final score. He looks impressed.
“You have a lot of groceries. What are you doing for dinner? ” He didn’t hesitate to answer questions and comments. I haven’t met someone this quickly, I can’t remember how long. I found it refreshing.
I kept toying with the return for all he threw my way. I laughed when he remarked that the $100 bill I was paying needed to be checked more closely because I was shopping at every grocery store on Ventura Avenue. It was a gummy, belly-filled laugh. Even the cashier couldn’t help but smile at our casual flirting. We’ve got everyone looking for. At least that’s what he later told me. He was intoxicated with attention. It wasn’t the smug, or looking at me type, but he knew he was making people laugh and lightening the mood.
“Wait for me over there. Don’t leave.” He pointed to a spot near the escalator to the garage. I was captivated by his confidence. Fascinated by this man with quick wits, I waited.
We took off the mask. We exchanged names, phone numbers and ages in the parking lot. (I’m 36 years old, white and a screenwriter who has lived in LA for 15 years. Mike is 41 years old, black and a business investor, but I’ve never seen him in a suit and tie. She is healthy and goes to the gym almost every day.
“What are you doing?”
“Go home and unload my groceries.” I didn’t have a smooth comeback.
“Let’s go have a drink.” He wasted no time. I love it. I told him it wouldn’t take me long to see him. He has taken the situation from 0 to 100, so there is no need to impress him anymore.
After I got home, I quickly packed up, put on my makeup, and put on a new t-shirt. I texted him to let him know I was ready. He ran a little slower and needed another 30 minutes. This gave me time to think.
Months before that, I swore to my friends that I was determined to meet someone in person. After not dating for three years and having a relationship six years earlier that ended in a bad breakup, I started meeting someone the same way I met everyone else – meeting direct. However, according to my best friend, Amy, “That’s not how it’s done today.” I only partially believe it. And I’m sure I want to prove her wrong.
What draws people together beyond looks is their vibe. It’s a very LA thing to say, but the high vibratory energy we put out, in this case, confidence, brings people to us. In a city where everyone is trying their best to move forward, that certainly applies to dating.
I’ve always considered myself a confident person in some areas and others, not so much. I’ve always been confident that I’m a friend, a sister, and an aunt, but when it comes to romance, the years have left me unsure of who I am in the dating world.
After the breakup I suffered from my long-term relationship, to which I was engaged six months later, I knew I needed those years to heal, find therapy, and enjoy. life as a new single woman.
I arrive early to our rendezvous, the Thirsty Trader of the Valley Village. I waited on the curb away from the street lights – a fitting reminder that I wasn’t ready to be seen at the time.
“I couldn’t find a parking spot. Come in and come see with me,” Mike told me from his truck. Even though I was hitting a stranger’s car at the time, I wasn’t scared at all.
We found a spot, and once inside the bar, we ordered food and drinks. Then we went to the yard. He sat next to me on a picnic bench. That’s what I usually associate with committed couples, not newcomers. But it is very comfortable, and the conversation is easy. He pulled me closer to him as we talked. I didn’t flinch at all. Did I somehow capture his confident aura?
The laughter and jokes continued. As we were leaving, Mike told me to sit down and he would carry me to my car, which made me laugh. “What are we? Sixteen?” I stood on his back, and when we got to my car, I slipped away, and that’s when he kissed me.
Now we are in a “situation”, as he calls it. It’s a serious normal that I don’t know how to define. We talk every day and hang out a few times a week, but Mike is not my boyfriend. Maybe I’m addicted to dopamine, laughter and long conversations. Or maybe it’s his infectious confidence rubbing off on me.
The author is a screenwriter with an MFA from the American Film Institute. She lives in Studio City. Her on Instagram: @NatZimmerman.
LA Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its splendor in the LA area, and we’d love to hear your true story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Send an email to LAaffairs@latimes.com. You can find submission instructions here. You can find past columns here.
https://www.latimes.com/lifestyle/story/2022-07-22/la-affairs-los-angeles-whole-foods-checkout-line-better-than-tinder-natalie-zimmerman We flirted at Whole Foods. I was into his vibe.